Donkey Kong and Character
April fool's Day - 2022
Ever since Herodotus first created video games in 1864, mankind has been yearning to discover the perfect video game character. In 1981, our prayers were answered when Nintendo released their greatest ever masterpiece: Donkey Kong. According to Wikipedia,1 Donkey Kong is a fictional ape, but over the last forty years this King of Kong has proven his greatness to be anything but fictional. Indeed, it has been proven through numerous GameFAQs character polls2 that Donkey Kong is not only the greatest video game character of all time, but the greatest character period (And also the greatest ape.) In this article, we will tell you why, even though you shouldn’t need to read the article to know why, because Donkey Kong is just that great.
Things that are Good about Donkey Kong
Good Characters Have Wants
When Abraham Lincoln first said “every character should want something, even if it’s a glass of bananas,”3 he was talking about Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong is the greatest character of all time because he has the greatest goal of all time: to get back his stolen bananas. This is actually an example of how incredible his character growth is, because his first goal was to throw barrels at people on construction sites. His progression from committing random acts of violence to righteous banana rescue is what’s known as a Positive Character Arc, and is another thing that makes his character so strong. He used to be bad, and now he’s good, and also he wants bananas. But Kremlings keep stealing them, which is bad—but it’s actually good because the missing bananas give him a goal, and we like to root for characters with goals. It shows that they’re persistent, which Donkey Kong is.
Donkey Kong has been searching for more bananas for something like thirty years, which is an extremely long time if you’re younger than thirty. He even had his own show about looking for bananas, which was covered extensively by Donkey Kong Documentarian videogamedunkey.4 In dunkey’s hard-hitting expose, you can see how much Donkey Kong likes bananas, and what kind of wacky hijinks Donkey must endure to get and protect the bananas. This is further proof that he is a goal-oriented, persistent, Hell-of-a-Guy. In conclusion, If Donkey Kong didn’t have goals, he would probably just be sleeping in his house all day, and then we wouldn’t be able to root for him. So yes, goals are good, but there’s other good stuff about Donkey Kong, too.
Good characters also need stuff
It’s not enough for characters to want things; they also have to need things, which is like when you want something really really bad but you can’t have it.5 You might think that what Donkey Kong needs is more bananas, but that’s actually not true. No, actually, it is true, but what Donkey Kong needs even more than bananas is the constant worship of all the people around him. Seriously.
First, take a look at his island. It’s in the shape of his head. Who does this if they don’t want people to be constantly thinking about them? Also, Donkey Kong hoards all the bananas to himself, even though there are other apes (and chimps!) on Kong Island, which means he needs all of the other monkeys to go to him if they want to eat something. That’s an example of capitalism, and also hoarding, both of which are bad. It’s also bad that he’s disrespectful to the other Kongs, which is part of his perverse need to feel bigger than the other monkeys. Investigative Reporter Joel Haver did a deep-dive into this phenomenon with his guerilla (gorilla?) documentary6 on Lanky Kong’s first time listening to the DK Rap, in which Lanky discovers that the lyrics about him are really mean, even though everybody else got nice words about them. Why would Donkey Kong be so hurtful? The answer is simple: because Donkey Kong has a pathological need to be the most powerful and respected person in the room, even if he has to cut others down to do it.
He's not perfect, though, because he believes in lies
There’s a lie at the heart of Donkey Kong’s pursuit of bananas: his belief that bananas don’t rot. Seriously. He keeps them all in a huge cave and they’re just expected to stay there? According to the google search ‘how fast do bananas rot’, “if the bananas are already turning yellow, you can anticipate full ripening in one to two days. Bananas with completely brown skins are the sweetest for culinary purposes, reaching perfection in about five to seven days.”7 But after that? Ruined. So it’s actually ridiculous that Donkey Kong would hoard bananas and expect them to be okay forever, and honestly, King K. Rool is doing him a favor by clearing out all the bananas from his cave over and over again. That cave probably has a ton of fruit flies. That’s gross.
Also, another lie Donkey Kong believes? That he’s a donkey. He’s not a donkey, he’s a monkey. This has been a constant source of confusion and dad jokes throughout the millennia, thus proving that this lie is his greatest weakness. Except for ghosts.
Also good characters have ghosts
The last thing good characters have is a ghost. A lot of amateur writers believe that the ghost is a metaphor for any pain or trauma in their past that informs their present-day decision making, but actually the ghost refers to how many literal ghosts there are in the story. Luckily, Donkey Kong has a lot of ghosts in his story, which is how you know he’s a really good character. In Donkey Kong 64, his grandma, Wrinkly Kong, is dead.8 It’s okay though because you can talk to her and she gives you hints on what to do next. Usually, these hints are banana-based, which ties into Donkey Kong’s goal/want and is a very good example of screenwriting.
Donkey Kong has other ghosts too. There’s a whole Ghost world in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest,9and there are probably other ghosts in other levels, too. But there are definitely a lot of ghosts in the ghost world. One is a ghost boss, which is worth at least ten regular ghosts. Also, he summons smaller ghost birds, so he’s worth at least seventeen ghosts. That’s just math, and math is extremely important in literary analysis. So are ghosts. Donkey Kong has ghosts.
In this article, I have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Donkey Kong is the greatest character in the history of characters, because he has wants, needs, lies, and lots of ghosts. His love of bananas, pathological desire for respect, failure to understand the concept of entropy, and ghost bird fights all make him an extremely detailed and good guy, like the kind Bill Shakespeare would write if he were still alive, but he’s not. But if he were, I think he would like Donkey Kong, and I think you should like him too.
Further Legitimate, Non-Fool's Day Reading
Character Arcs represent the way characters change with the progression of the story.
What happens if a character doesn’t achieve their goal? What happens if they do?
Well-rounded characters need strengths to achieve their goals, but too many strengths can make them unrelatable.
4 videogamedunkey. “Donkey Kong TV Show.” YouTube, 2018.
5 I think this is a quote from KM Weiland but I don’t remember because my computer is in the shop and that’s where my kindle lives (on the computer, not in the shop. but not this computer. im writing this on a different computer and the keyboard does not work as good.)
6 Haver, Joel. “Lanky Kong listens to DK Rap for the first time.” YouTube, 2022.
7 How Long Does it Take for a Banana to Ripen? – Home Guides (that’s what google told me!!!1)